*For those who are new here, please note that you can click here and check the previous days. Also, this challenge is not a strict diet plan but a series of mini-challenges to establish healthy Mediterranean diet habits. I do include links and suggestions for recipes, if you want a menu plan you can go here for a 5-day mix and match plan. For a longer comprehensive 14-day plan along with 100 recipes you can consider my new book.
Hello everybody! Hope you had an enjoyable and restful weekend. Welcome to Day #8! As it is Monday today, it is great opportunity to talk about meat and to have a meatless day.
As you may already probably know the Mediterranean diet is low in meat particularly red meat. A large body of evidence shows a clear link between high intake of red and processed meats and a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death.
How much meat should you eat according to the Mediterranean diet?
Let’s look at the numbers, because I have seen some far-off estimates that have nothing to do with the authentic Mediterranean diet. Generally red meat in the true Mediterranean diet is consumed once or twice a month for a total of 8 ounces. Yes, that is correct. However, a good (and realistic) place to start, especially for those who are just beginning to adjust to this type of eating, is to focus on limiting red meat to once a week. Or a few times a week with smaller serving sizes of meat. Chicken can be consumed once to twice a week.
Meat Free Day Menu
Breakfast: Add a yogurt to your breakfast, accompany with vegetables or fruit
Main Meal: Have your main meal based on beans that will provide good amounts of protein:
Recipes to try:
*Accompany with a piece of cheese.
Lighter Meal: Have an omelet or an omelet sandwich along with a salad.
Snack: Have a handful of walnuts
Having a Meatless Monday is fine but what about the rest of the week? Not having meat once a week is a start, but if you really want to see improvements, you will need to be eating less meat generally, not just on Mondays.
How to Cut Down on Meat
- Replace deli meats in your sandwich. Processed meats including luncheon and deli meats can pose a health risk. Many people have them every day for lunch in sandwiches, but you can adjust the ingredients and still have a tasty sandwich. Instead of a ham and cheese you can make a cheese sandwich with the addition of plenty of vegetables, as well as healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil. You can also use tahini or other nut butters in your sandwich to add a hint of protein and fat to your sandwich.
- Cut down on meat gradually. Instead of cutting out meat completely, start out by including meat as a side portion. So rather than eating a 5-6 ounce serving, cut down to 2 ounces of meat and fill the rest of the plate with vegetables and grains.
- Turn your vegetables and beans into patties. Mediterranean cuisine has a large number of what we call pseudo-patties, they are basically fritters or patties made with vegetables and sometimes eggs and cheese, instead of meat, hence the name. Popular ones include tomato patties from Santorini, and chickpea patties and they are delicious and filling. You can serve them with a yogurt dip and a salad, and you have a complete and filling meal.
- Have eggs as a main meal not just for breakfast. Eggs can be a great substitute for meat and offer a good amount of protein. In the Mediterranean eggs can be served as a main course along with a salad. A typical light meal may be an omelet with a tomato salad and a slice of bread.
- Schedule your meat day. Your meat day can be any day of the week. Planning a barbecue on Sunday? Then make that your meat day. Going to a favorite steakhouse? No problem just adjusts your weekly meals.
I know some of you prefer not to eat any meat at all. And this is fine. In fact, traditionally in Greece, Greeks abstained from most animal products for about 200 days a year. You can read about the Greek Fast here: The Rules of the Greek Fast